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Like Grotius, Pufendorf and virtually every other just-war philosopher who preceded him, Kant viewed sovereign states as “moral persons” who exist in a state of nature vis-à-vis other states.As with humans who exist in a state of nature without a sovereign power to adjudicate disputes and enforce its decisions, a state of war will effectively exist among states.
As Kant himself noted, rulers frequently cited Grotius, Pufendorf, and other just-war philosophers to justify their decisions to from war.
Although perpetual peace was a moral ideal for Kant, he did not regard it as an unattainable goal.
Of the three forms of the state, that of democracy is, properly speaking, necessarily a despotism, because it establishes an executive power in which “all” decide, for or even against one who does not agree; that is, “all” who are not quite all, decide, and this is a contradiction of the general will with itself and with freedom (p. According to Kant, governments are morally obligated to pursue peace.
Here he drew a parallel between the proper domestic functions of governments and their international responsibilities.
One of these days I hope to write a series on the theory of war.
Essay History Morals Other Peace Perpetual Politics
If I manage to follow through on this plan, I will criticize in detail the notion that we should view states as moral persons, analogous to morally autonomous human beings existing in a state of nature.By a “state of war” Kant did not mean continuous violent conflict but rather the continuous of such conflict.Each state will naturally fear other states, and this fear will often result in war.Among the latter would be: having to fight, having to pay the costs of war from their own resources, having painfully to repair the devastation war leaves behind, and, to fill up the measure of evils, load themselves with a heavy national debt that would embitter peace itself and that can never be liquidated on account of constant wars in the is the easiest thing in the world to decide upon, because war does not require of the ruler…the least sacrifice of the pleasures of his table, the chase, his country houses, his court functions, and the like.He may, therefore, resolve on war as on a pleasure party for the most trivial reasons, and with perfect indifference leave the justification which decency requires to the diplomatic corps who are ever ready to provide it (p. Kant stressed that we should not confuse a republican form of government with democracy.(It should be noted that Kant did not favor universal suffrage.) As Kant explained in “Perpetual Peace” (pp.94-95): If the consent of the citizens is required in order to decide that war should be declared (and in this [republican] constitution it cannot but be the case), nothing is more natural than that they would be very cautious in commencing such a poor game, decreeing for themselves all the calamities of war.Rather, in the same manner that he defended the inevitability of progress in general (see my last essay), so he regarded perpetual peace as something that would eventually come about.But as with all progress, perpetual peace would take a long time to develop, and much of it would be the of human action—the result of self-interested behavior that does not have international peace as its immediate purpose.He rejected this idea because differences in language, culture, traditions, and so forth rendered a world-state thoroughly impracticable.Nevertheless, a league of nations—or a “league of peace,” as Kant described it—should be charged with maintaining perpetual peace.